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Jeannette Tuitele-Lewis, President/CEO

Jeannette Tuitele-Lewis became BSLT's President and CEO in October of 2014. Prior to coming to BSLT, she worked for Sierra Foothill Conservancy for five years as executive director, following three years as development and outreach director. During her tenure, the organization doubled its operations capacity, reached a milestone of 25,000 acres of conserved lands, and became Land Trust Alliance accredited.

Born in California, Jeannette split much of her youth between the West Coast and the Pacific Islands. Her earliest outdoor memories include long days at the beach while living on Guam. Her teen years were spent exploring the oak woodlands of California's Solano County. These experiences sparked a lifelong passion for land conservation and the study of the relationship between land and people.

Upon graduating from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa with a botany degree, Jeannette worked in the American Samoan Islands for the Community and Natural Resources Division. There she documented medicinal uses of plants by traditional healers, worked with local farmers to promote non-timber forest products, and coordinated village tree plantings in areas devastated by recent hurricanes. She received her master's degree in forest science from Oregon State University, where her studies integrated ecological analysis, agroforestry, and land tenure systems. Following graduate school, Jeannette worked as a forest science technician, collecting data on old growth forests across the Pacific Northwest.

Jeannette serves on the board of the California Council of Land Trusts and on the national Leadership Council of the Land Trust Alliance. She is also an alumnus of the Center for Whole Communities. She spends her free time exploring coastal lands with her husband, Jamie, and their two young children, Amaelia and Malae. She also maintains her Pacific Island connections and occasionally advises on projects in the region.


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Rich Hamilton, Chief Operating Officer

Rich Hamilton joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2012, after spending most of his career in financial management in the real estate development and resort management industries. A native East Coaster, Rich began his career as a management trainee and renovation-projects manager with Sheraton Hotels in Toronto before receiving a highly fortuitous transfer to the Central Coast of California to help oversee the construction of the Monterey Sheraton Hotel (now the Marriott Hotel). He then spent 14 years in various real estate development and resort-operations posts with Pebble Beach Company, including eight years as chief financial officer. Rich also served in senior finance positions with Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara, California; the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California; and at Kiley Ranch Communities in Sparks, Nevada, while living in Lake Tahoe.

"When the time came for me to move back to the Monterey Peninsula from Lake Tahoe," Rich says, "a position at BSLT caught my eye. As a hiker, I had always been impressed by the Land Trust's conservation efforts. But when I learned that their mission also included using conserved land as a force for good in the world, I knew that BSLT would be the ideal place for me to invest my time and energy."

Rich received a bachelor's degree in business administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA in finance from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. On early Saturday mornings, he can usually be found hiking up to the ridgeline in Garland Park or on one of BSLT's properties. He also enjoys tennis, skiing, astronomy, and trying to finish all the books in his Kindle.


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Guille Barbosa, Executive Projects Manager

In search of meaning in her career, Guille Barbosa began her tenure with Big Sur Land Trust in June 2012 as Executive Assistant to the President/CEO and Board Liaison. Her position has since evolved, and she currently provides support to the Development and Communications/Community Engagement Departments, both of which she enjoys participating in and learning from.

Previously, Guille, who is fluent in Spanish, worked for seven years as executive assistant to the senior vice president and general manager of Entravision Communications Corporation (also know as Univision Spanish Network). Plus, she hosted a short morning segment on KSMS-TV, the regional Spanish media, interviewing local politicians, business owners, and nonprofits. Although being in front of the camera was not her niche, she was grateful for the opportunity to interact with the Central Coast community. She hopes her efforts in the communications and community engagement department at the Big Sur Land Trust enable her to reach out to the Latino community, connect with them, and convey to them the needs and benefits of the outdoors.

Guille is a lifelong resident of Salinas. Although she considered living in other areas, "the weather and beauty of the Central Coast always called out to me," she says. Guille is very involved in her son's soccer games and personal development. They enjoy being outdoors together every weekend, participating in soccer activities, hiking, or boogie boarding. Guille especially appreciates jogging on trails and watching her son experience an active outdoor life.

Guille is a graduate of North Salinas High School, Prairie State College in Illinois, and the University of Phoenix. She hopes to return to school one day to pursue an MBA degree.


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Jim Cox, Glen Deven Ranch Caretaker

Jim Cox has been caretaker and manager of Glen Deven Ranch for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in forming Big Sur's volunteer Mid-Coast Fire Brigade and served on it for 24 years (15 of them as chief or assistant chief), handling fires, medical emergencies, and rescues year-round on the Big Sur coast. In 1998, he was voted Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year by the Monterey County Fire Chief's Association.


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Todd Farrington, Director of Community Programs

Todd joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2007. He has served in many different capacities, including as operations and events manager, community affairs manager and creative producer — along with designing and managing BSLT’s Youth Outdoor Programs since their inception in 2013.

Todd firmly believes the health of nature and the health of our human communities are intertwined. Over the years he has sought to connect people of all ages to BSLT conserved lands and beyond through facilitating a wide range of experiences — from intimate guided hikes though ancient redwood forests to community-wide festivals celebrating urban open spaces.

Todd serves on the Board of the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club. He also spent several seasons volunteering with the Monterey Jazz Festival as the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra chaperone or as the festival’s lead volunteer coordinator.

When Todd isn’t volunteering in his community, exploring the deep woods alone or with new friends he’s exploring the depths of his imagination with pen and paper in hand, and trying very hard not to be the next worst short story writer on the Monterey Peninsula.


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Beth Febus, Conservation Projects Manager 

Beth joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2019 as Conservation Projects Manager. She previously spent eight years at the John Muir Land Trust as Stewardship Manager where she was responsible for stewardship of fee title and easement properties, managing public access and restoration projects, grant writing and promoting environmental education on the land. Most recently she spent seven years with the CSU COAST program working with hundreds of faculty and students at 23 CSU campuses to promote marine and coastal science through research and education funding programs. She received her MS in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy from CSU Monterey Bay and BA from UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies.

Beth lives in Pacific Grove with her husband Jesse and their two children, Jameson and Maggie. Beth enjoys spending time outdoors with her family gardening, camping and walking on the beach.


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Ashley Gora, Development Manager

Ashley joined Big Sur Land Trust in October 2017 as the Grants Coordinator. Since then, her position has evolved to include other forms of institutional giving and support to the Development Team. She also directs Big Sur Land Trust’s annual Race for Open Space fundraising trail running event. Ashley worked previously as a Program Coordinator at the Lyceum of Monterey County and as Internship and Research Affiliation Coordinator for the Monteverde Institute, based in Costa Rica.

Originally from Illinois, Ashley received bachelor’s degrees in International Relations and Spanish from Lake Forest College before moving to Monterey for an MBA in social enterprise and an MA in international environmental policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Her areas of interest were, and continue to be, conservation finance, biodiversity protection, ecosystems-based management, and the role of business in natural resource conservation. She has honed her research, writing, and Spanish language skills through intensive classwork and time spent living abroad in Costa Rica, Spain, and Peru.

Ashley is a strong advocate for nature-based education, exercise, and play. She can frequently be found birdwatching, hiking, and trail running in and around several of the areas benefited by Big Sur Land Trust’s work. Her other favorite activities have helped her build strong community ties to Monterey: Rock climbing, playing Ultimate Frisbee, salsa dancing, and scuba diving are just a few of her obsessions. She balances physical activity with time spent relaxing on the couch watching anime shows with her fiancé Justin.


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Hadley Hargrove, Preserve Manager

Hadley comes to BSLT from the University of California Natural Reserve System where he lived at and cared for Landels-Hill Big Creek Preserve. He grew up on a wool and mohair ranch in West Texas helping to manage 80,000 acres and 10,000 head of sheep and goats with his father and brother. After high school Hadley lived in Mexico ranching and perfecting his Spanish. His life at sea began when he joined the Hawaiian Chieftain, an educational vessel voyaging from Santa Cruz, CA to Port Antonio, Jamaica. After 13 years, Hadley’s yearning for land grew too strong to resist. The broad range of skills and colorful experiences he gathered before joining our stewardship team are true examples of “doing what you love.” Now he is using his many talents while living at and navigating the demands of caring for Mitteldorf Preserve. Hadley invites you to slow down and say “Hi” whenever you’re there and see what fun projects he has going!


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Jenny Jacox, Americorps VIP Volunteer Coordinator

“For many of us navigating life amidst a pandemic, Big Sur Land Trust’s conserved lands provided beauty, freedom, and peace along with safe space to roam and maintain our connection to the outside world. I am forever changed by my time spent on these lands, and grateful for the chance to pay this gift forward.”

Jenny earned her BS (Marine Biology) and her PhD (Ocean Sciences) at UC Santa Cruz.  Most recently, she worked in coastal policy and management at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Inspired to give back, Jenny joined Big Sur Land Trust in August. During her 11-month appointment, Jenny will develop BSLT’s volunteer program infrastructure for increased capacity and efficacy. Part scientist, part runner, Jenny’s wonder is as far-ranging as the trails she wanders. She invites you to share your wonderings/wanderings by emailing her at jjacox@bigsurlandtrust.org or introducing yourself at our next volunteer event.


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Alex Kalish, Stewardship Project Manager

Alex joined Big Sur Land Trust in November 2021 as Stewardship Project Manager. He grew up in California, often visiting his grandma and aunt in Carmel Valley and Monterey, and eventually landed here himself while attending MIIS to study International Environmental Policy and Ocean & Coastal Resource Management. He is an action-oriented environmental professional bringing a range of different perspectives and experiences into this work. Alex's most recent work was as an Environmental Management Advisor in Peace Corps Jamaica, where he supported efforts in climate smart agriculture, organic farming, and permaculture. He has performed wetlands monitoring on a mitigation project out of the UC Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute, spending eight hours a day in a wetsuit. Alex also brings a range of practical skills from work in farming, carpentry, and woodshops. In his free time, he can be found surfing up and down the coast, hiking, or making music.


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Kate Mitchell Mehle, CFRE Director of Development

Kate Mitchell Mehle joined Big Sur Land Trust as Director of Development in May 2015, bringing with her nine years of experience at United Way Monterey County. In that time, she rose to become United Way's fundraising team leader and raised nearly $28 million for the county.

A native East Coaster, Kate grew up in New Jersey, developing her love of nature at Bear Mountain and the Palisades Park. At Penn State University, she earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and minored in women's studies. Upon graduation, Kate moved to Boston to join a media-buying firm that served clients such as WGBH, Jordan's Furniture, Cracker Barrel, and Comcast. Eventually she left marketing and advertising to follow her dream of working in the nonprofit sector.

Kate expanded her knowledge of nonprofit management by participating in Community Foundation for Monterey County's LEAD (Leadership Education and Development Institute) program and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). She has volunteered in leadership roles with organizations such as the Junior League of Monterey County, Parenting Connection for Monterey County and International School of Monterey. She is also member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Monterey Bay Chapter.

Kate lives in Monterey with her husband, Matt, and their two young children. Her favorite pastimes include taking her boys hiking or camping. Kate's favorite hike is the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails at Yosemite National Park.


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Nicole Nedeff, Associate Director of Conservation

Nikki is a Monterey County native with an enduring love of wild places and open spaces. Her professional experience spans more than three decades of work with non-profit conservation organizations and public resource management agencies. She returned to BSLT in 2018 to coordinate land transactions. Nikki’s academic background includes degrees in Biogeography from UC Berkeley, where her graduate work focused on riparian plant ecology. Nikki started her career with The Nature Conservancy’s California program and later worked with TNC as the Manager of the Muleshoe Ranch Preserve in southeastern Arizona. After returning to California, she spent time with the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District as the agency’s first Naturalist and later used her training in riparian ecology to coordinate restoration efforts on the Carmel River for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. Nikki served as Conservation Director for BSLT between 2000 and 2002, and as Vice President of the Wilderness Land Trust between 2005 and 2009. Nikki recently retired from California State University Monterey Bay, where she taught plant community ecology. She still lectures and offers workshops on topics related to California vegetation and is active in the California Native Plant Society.


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Adrienne Otis, Accounting Manager

Adrienne Otis was born and raised in Monterey and graduated from Monterey High School. After spending a year abroad at the University of Bordeaux, France, she became a tour guide for Europeans visiting the U.S. and traveled from coast to coast practicing her French and German. She then received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Irvine and returned to the Monterey Peninsula to study and work in accounting.

Adrienne soon became interested in local nonprofits and worked as a consultant at vari-ous healthcare agencies before becoming finance director of the American Lung Association of the Central Coast in 1994. Her love of this area and its natural beauty, as well as her sense that it was "home," led her to join the Big Sur Land Trust in 2007 as Accounting Manager.

She enjoys going to the beach and reading and speaking French. Adrienne loves to travel and has visited Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Latin America. She currently lives in Carmel Valley.


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Tonalla Renteria, Cultural Research Intern

Tonalla has been working on the Monterey County Indigenous and Racial Minority Land Loss Timeline project. She began by focusing on Indigenous land loss using first perspective narratives from California Native Americans as the groundwork for historical context. Then she proceeded to analyze educational databases looking at Spanish and Mexican land grant distribution within the local area. In addition to local Indigenous history, Tonalla continued to look at racial minorities affected by land loss, including African Americans, Chinese, and Japanese. (BSLT’s board member Larry Oda provided great resources for local Japanese history!) The final project is a functional digitized timeline, a document of historical images and their references, and a slide presentation that summarizes the project’s process and findings. Tonalla is looking forward to presenting this timeline of the unique history of land loss and allocation in Monterey County.


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Tracy Rhoades, Operations Manager

Tracy Rhoades began working at Big Sur Land Trust in 2011 as Administration Assistant. It was not long, however, before she became the Office Manager. She oversees the operations of the Hartnell office and provides assistance and support to BSLT's philanthropy, communications, stewardship, and conservation departments.

Tracy brings years of customer service, sales, marketing, and administrative experience to the organization. After graduating from California State University, Northridge with a journalism degree, she began a professional career in software sales and customer service for a major software company. She later worked as production manager for a weekly newspaper and then as an online coordinator at a daily paper. But it was during her years working with her husband, Rob, at a small Internet company that she truly enjoyed running the daily operations of an office.

Big Sur Land Trust introduced Tracy to land-conservation efforts and the nonprofit sector. She feels honored to be working for such an amazing organization.

Tracy was raised in Southern California. Her parents encouraged the family to get outside and enjoy nature. They spent their summers camping in Yosemite National Park and vacationing in Carmel, where they eventually moved to and where Tracy attended high school. In their new home, the family took day trips to Pfeiffer State Park and Point Lobos. In fact, her mother was a docent at Point Lobos for years. It is BSLT's passion for preserved lands that makes working at the Trust so special for Tracy.

She loves spending weekends outdoors, either playing tennis with her son or hiking with her family. Tracy also enjoys reading and learning new Web and computer programs.


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Patrick Riparetti, Director of Stewardship

Patrick manages the Land Trust's annual easement-monitoring program, implements restoration projects, generates maps, and cares for the ecological assets, facilities, and infrastructure of Big Sur Land Trust properties throughout the county. He was drawn to BSLT's initiatives to responsibly manage conserved land, to restore impaired environments and ecological processes, and to provide tangible benefits for the community.

As a graduate of the University of Montana's Wildland Restoration Program, Patrick spent the previous five years working on ecological restoration and species recovery. He was a fisheries technician for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, where he mapped and analyzed habitat, monitored populations, and performed rescues for the Southern California steelhead. As a biological consultant and restoration practitioner, he also worked to remove invasive species, improve habitat, and protect sensitive species in both California and Montana and in the Patagonia region of South America. Patrick strives to create and be a part of meaningful projects that balance community values and scientific strength.

Patrick grew up in Utah, Washington state, and California and spent his youth adventuring in the outdoors on backpacking, river-running, and surf trips. His love for wild places and desire to share his experience with others led him to become a Grand Canyon river guide. As is often the case when pursuing the outdoors, Patrick developed a strong sense of responsibility to learn ways in which we can best conserve and manage special landscapes.


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Rachel Saunders, Director of Conservation

Rachel Saunders has more than 30 years of experience promoting the conservation of Central California's coastal and marine environments through science, policy, communications, and community engagement. Her passion for the outdoors and commitment to conservation was seeded as a child, exploring the backwoods of rural North Carolina and the tide pools of Southern California. She joined the Land Trust in 2007 as Director of Communications and Community Affairs, drawn to BSLT because of its strategic organizational changes aimed at expanding its reach and impact and ensuring that all communities have the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. In 2012, she began a transition to BSLT's conservation work and assumed her present role in 2014. Her work at the Big Sur Land Trust is both strategic and tactical, moving from high level planning to on-the-ground implementation.

Prior to joining BSLT, Rachel served as community and public relations coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She was also planning director for Camp Sea Lab (a nonprofit children's ocean-science education camp) and was field office director for the Ocean Conservancy, a national ocean-conservation organization, where she led successful campaigns to establish national marine sanctuaries at both Monterey Bay and the Olympic Coast.

Rachel has an master's degree in natural resources policy and management from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's in environmental science from the State University of New York. She was a founder of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation and serves on its board of directors. Rachel has received numerous awards for environmental leadership and community service, including a national Environmental Hero Award in 1999 from Vice President Al Gore and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rachel loves tennis, hiking, and watching movies. She adores her pup, Molly, who ensures that Rachel gets outside daily.


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Jose Carlos Navarro Solis, Development Coordinator

Email: jcnavarro@bigsurlandtrust.org

After volunteering with Big Sur Land Trust, Jose Carlos (JC) joined the Development Team as a development coordinator in 2019. JC brings years of customer service, finance, administration, marketing, and creative media experience.

JC was born in the Coachella Valley, located in southern California in the Sonoran Desert region. He grew up in the state of Mexico, a mega suburb of Mexico City. He went to Palm Desert High School and began his career in business administration at College of the Desert. He then moved to the cooler San Francisco weather, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing. But it wasn’t until JC moved to Monterey, CA, that he found a place of great balance to live and grow.

JC learned the importance of conservation and awareness when he took a non-required course at College of the Desert. Thanks to this course, he found his motivation. In 2018, JC earned a master’s degree in international environmental policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, where he also met his partner in life, Dounia.

JC has lived in Pavia, Italy, as well as in New Delhi, India. He likes traveling with a purpose, but he is also aware of the damage caused by airplane pollution. In the future, JC wants to expand and adapt the land trust model to his home country, Mexico, and to other places. He enjoys street and wildlife photography as well as playing sports, eating fruits, giving dogs professional scratch therapy and making people feel loved and needed. He believes in the balance of life.


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Jennifer Vasquez, Conservation Program Assistant

Jennifer first became involved with Big Sur Land Trust in the summer of 2013 as an outdoor camp participant at Glen Deven ranch. In 2015, she took on a role as Junior Counselor. Jennifer continued her involvement with BSLT at camps while attending UC Santa Barbara. Upon completing a Bachelor of Science in Aquatic Biology in March 2019, she joined Big Sur Land Trust as the Conservation Program Assistant.

Jennifer developed an interest in conservation work during her time as a teen volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where she developed a passion for the oceans and a sense of stewardship. She also developed and honed her interpretation skills through guest engagement and serving as youth leader for summer programs.

Throughout her time spent at Glen Deven ranch, Jennifer developed a deep sense of place within Big Sur, expanding her interest in conservation to include both lands and oceans. Jennifer is passionate about community engagement and raising awareness about outdoor experiences and the many benefits that come along with them. Big Sur Land Trust’s mission deeply resonates with Jennifer, and she looks forward to helping further its impact, especially in underserved communities.


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Sharon Wyatt, Data Development Coordinator 

Sharon joined the development team in early 2022 as our first Data Development Coordinator. With a Master’s in Database Administration, she brings unique skills and perspectives, along with her enthusiasm for the mission and people of Big Sur Land Trust. Her love of the outdoors is matched only by her love of coding. 

Sharon came to us from the world of logistics and supply chain management, having worked most recently with the Defense Commissaries Agency. Her prior experience spans a wide breadth of sectors and industries, from Aircraft Maintenance to elementary education and literacy intervention. After traveling the world for twelve years, in 2017, she and her family decided to call Monterey their home.  

She developed her love of land and sea at an early age while hiking and swimming in Guam. Sharon has prior experience in conservation as an Americorp Volunteer, and through her time as an educator at an environmental charter school. 

When she is not huddling behind her computer, muttering to herself, you can find her paddling outrigger canoes up and down the California Coast. She and her family race with Ke Kai O’Uhane, a local cultural non-profit where she also serves on the board.  


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Carla Zilliox, Communications Manager

After consulting with Big Sur Land Trust on messaging and media relations, Carla Zilliox joined our team as Communications Manager in May 2016. As she learned more about our mission, she jumped at the chance to become part of the organization and help tell our continually evolving story.

A native Californian, Carla grew up in San Jose, spending many weekends backpacking and hiking in Big Sur, Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English from UC Berkeley, Carla pursued a career in advertising, marketing and communications throughout Silicon Valley. Wanting more balance in their family life, she and her husband, Kent, moved to Carmel Valley while their sons were still in elementary school.  After the move, Carla established a marketing communications consulting practice; her varied client list included Cisco, HP and The Santa Lucia Preserve.

Carla has volunteered with a number of local organizations including Community Partnership for Youth, the Carmel Valley Kiwanis, Carmel Valley High School Site Council and served as the communications committee chairperson for Impact Monterey County.

She knows first-hand the powerful influence that our local landscapes have on our well-being. Her sons, Quinn and Lucas, have immersed themselves in the outdoors and these experiences continue to positively define their priorities.


Special thanks to Dawn May Photography